• Switzerland's news in English

Swiss parliament tilts right over migration fears

Nina Larson/AFP · 18 Oct 2015, 17:08

Published: 18 Oct 2015 17:08 GMT+02:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

The first results ticking in from Switzerland's 26 cantons showed the country's largest party, the populist right-wing anti-immigration Swiss People's Party (SVP), making gains that were expected to tip the scale in
parliament towards a slight centre-right majority.
Observers had predicted that SVP would gain ground from the 26.6 percent of the vote they won in 2011, but initial regional results showed their support swelling more than expected and even possibly passing their all-time high in 2007 of 28.9 percent.
In all, 246 seats are up for grabs — 200 in the lower chamber and the remainder in the upper chamber.
The expected shift comes as surging numbers of migrants and refugees moving through Europe have heightened the focus on the issue in Switzerland, even though the wealthy Alpine nation is yet to be significantly affected by the crisis.
About a quarter of Switzerland's eight million inhabitants are foreign nationals, and immigration and asylum policies tend to figure among voters' top concerns.

'A lot at stake' 

The latest survey from the gfs.bern polling institute showed that nearly 50 percent of voters considered migration the most important issue facing the country.

"I think there is a lot at stake, not only when it comes to the reception of refugees, but also the entire problem of the large numbers on the move," Colette Morel, a 69-year-old retired teacher, told AFP as she cast her ballot in the central canton of Fribourg.
SVP vice president and its most outspoken member, Christoph Blocher, insisted earlier this month that his party was the only one that could solve Switzerland's "asylum problem" and "eliminate the chaos".
Blocher, a multi-billionaire who served in the Swiss government from 2004-2007 before being pushed out over his confrontational style, saw his daughter Magdalena Martullo Blocher win a parliamentary seat Sunday in the eastern canton of Graubunden, the early results showed.
The SVP, which has previously sparked outcry with campaign posters such as one showing three white sheep kicking a black sheep off the Swiss flag, has in its national push this year been less provocative, resorting mainly to posters featuring pictures of candidates with the slogan "Stay free".
But some regional divisions of the party have gone much further, with the Vaud youth unit putting out a poster featuring a caricature of a jihadist, wearing an EU armband, preparing to decapitate a bound and gagged blonde woman wearing a Swiss flag tank top, flanked by the caption: "Keep your head on your
That poster also plays to the second top concern among the Swiss, according to the latest gfs.bern poll.
Nine percent of those questioned in the survey said they were most concerned about Switzerland's relationship with the European Union, which was badly hit by a narrow Swiss popular vote in February 2014, championed by the SVP, in favour of restricting immigration from the bloc.
The centre-right Liberals, in third place, were also seen gaining ground, according to the first results, helping move the pendulum in parliament towards the right.
The party, which largely sees eye-to-eye with SVP on economic and energy issues, takes a very different stance on a range of subjects, including on the question of immigration.

 Magic formula 

Story continues below…

The Socialists, Switzerland's second largest party, were meanwhile seeing mixed results Sunday, snatching an extra seat in Zurich but losing one seat in Valais and another in Vaud, early results showed.
The Christian Democrats, the Greens and other smaller parties were seen taking a hit.
Power-sharing and consensus rule are the norm in Switzerland and elections rarely lead to major shifts in parliament or the makeup of the government, which does not directly reflect the power balance in the house.
Once the new parliament is in place, it will in December elect the government, with the seven posts traditionally shared among the major parties from right to left under a tacit decades-old agreement dubbed "the magic formula", aimed at ensuring political stability.

For more news from Switzerland, join us on Facebook and Twitter.

Nina Larson/AFP (news@thelocal.ch)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Today's headlines
Montreux throws hat in Olympic rings
Could Montreux host the 2026 Games? Photo: Ivo Scholz/Swiss Tourism

Montreux is to put itself forward as the host city for the 2026 winter Olympics as part of a potential bid by the cantons of Valais and Vaud.

Geneva car share scheme could help reduce city traffic
Catch a Car is aimed at short hops within a city. Photo: Catch a Car

Catch a Car, already in Basel, launches in Geneva next month.

Swiss women will ‘work for free’ for the rest of year
Female employees in Switzerland earn 19.3 percent less than their male colleagues. File photo: Randy Kashka

Switzerland's gender pay gap means from today, Friday October 21st, women in the country will effectively be working for free for the rest of 2016.

Swiss luxury watches stolen in Paris raid
Police outside the Girard-Perregaux watch store on Thursday. Photo: Bertrand Guay/AFP

The 10 Girard-Perregaux watches are worth half a million euros in total.

Brother-in-law arrested over murder of Swiss teacher
The victim worked in a school in Stabio, near the town of Mendrisio. Photo: Oliver Graf

The primary school teacher was found dead in Ticino earlier this week.

Inside Switzerland’s largest nuclear bunker – 40 years on
Designed to house 20,000 people, the bunker was built in and over two motorway tunnels. Photo: Unterirdisch Ueberleben

The Local takes a tour of the Sonnenberg bunker in Lucerne, opened 40 years ago at the height of the Cold War.

Ten Swiss ski resorts named most expensive in Europe
File photo: Renato Bagattini/Swiss Tourism

Skiers in Switzerland pay the highest prices for their ski passes of anywhere in Europe, according to research.

Eco group fights Bern over wind farm plans
There are currently more than 30 wind farms in Switzerland. Photo: Alpiq

Wind turbines are “gigantic and destructive” machines, says Paysage Libre Suisse.

Vegan wins battle to be accepted by Swiss army
Antoni Da Campo will now carry out his military service. Photo: Antoni Da Campo

A Swiss man who was told he would not be accepted for military service because of his strict veganism has finally succeeded in making the army change its mind.

Geneva terror suspects to receive compensation
File photo: Emran Kassim

The Swiss public prosecutor has dropped the case against them.

Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
Photo: Richard Juilliard/AFP
Man makes Geneva airport bomb threat ‘for a joke’
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
Photo: AFP
Solar Impulse team reveals plans for unmanned plane
File photo: Martin Abegglen
Swiss to vote on passport rules for 3rd gen foreigners
Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
Photo: AFP
Swiss wingsuit hotspot Lauterbrunnen won’t impose ban
Photo: Swiss Tourism
Six reasons Switzerland isn’t as boring as you might think
Photo: Swiss Tourism
Report: Switzerland one of world’s best places for girls
Photo: The Local
Thief returns Swiss cow bells worth thousands
File photo: Wikimedia Commons
One in three rapists isn’t locked up: statistics
Photo: activistin.ch
Tampon-tax protest turns Zurich fountains red
Photo: AFP
Geneva police to lift ban on bearded officers
Photo: Marcel Gillieron/AFP
Suicide chef’s restaurant keeps Michelin stars
Photo: Lara de Salis
11 things the Swiss get tired of hearing abroad
Photo:  Ivo Scholz/Swiss-image.ch
Survey: expats in Switzerland have money but few friends
Photo: AFP
Swiss press criticize Bern’s 'capitulation' on immigration
Photo: Jura Trois Lacs tourism
German ex-policeman is Swiss city’s new hermit
Photo: Dmitry A. Mottl
Ticino votes to favour local workers over foreigners
Photo: file
Some deodorants could cause breast cancer: Swiss study
Photo: Royal Savoy
In pictures: Inside the latest Swiss luxury hotel
Photo: AFP
Geneva airport bomb hoaxer faces 90,000-franc bill
Photo: Schaffhausen police
Mother leaves toddler son alone in car to go clubbing
Photo: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP
Swiss populist attacked by knife-wielding pensioner
Photo: File
Bern argues over passports for 3rd generation foreigners
Photo: Broad Bean Media
Muslim pupils must shake hands – ‘no ifs and buts’
jobs available